15 Little Things You Can Do This Fall For A Gorgeous Spring Garden

Consider this your fall garden clean up guide.

September 18, 2017
raking leaves
sarahwolfephotography/ Getty

You and your fall garden benefit when you give your plants the same TLC in autumn as you do in spring and summer. Wildlife will find food and shelter, weeds will be easier to control, and plant diseases, as well as pests, will no longer drive you crazy. These tasks and tools will help you through the season’s finale—and you can thank us come spring. (Here are 5 ways your garden can support the local wildlife.)

Home gardeners should first identify their pests and then act to reduce the potential for exacerbating these problems through overwintering, says Tom Green, Ph.D., president of the IPM Institute of North America.


Here, Dr. Green shares 16 simple tasks you should be doing in your garden this fall to prepare it for colder months and ensure a vibrant spring.  

(Whether you're starting your first garden or switching to organic, Rodale’s Basic Organic Gardening has all the answers and advice you need—get your copy today!)

1. Clear Rotten Fruit

You'll want to clean up and compost any rotten fruit from the ground around trees—infestations last through winter.

2. Mulch, mulch, mulch

Mulch to maintain soil quality, using weeds (but not those with seeds), cocoa hulls, grass clippings, leaves, and straw. Here's what every gardening should know about mulching.

3. Sow Cover Crops

Plant cover crops like buckwheat after harvest to correct soil compaction. (Here's everything you need to know about planting cover crops.) 

4. Confuse Pathogens

Sounds weird, but you can indeed disrupt pathogens' plans by mapping out a garden plan for crop rotation.

compost bin
Schlegelfotos/ Getty


5. Build a Compost Bin

Or add fresh leaves and grass cuttings to your existing compost bin and cover until spring. (Here's everything you need to know to start composting now.)

6. Cover Ornamentals

Use deer netting to cover ornamentals such as azaleas and berry bushes.

7. Clear annuals

Clear out your old annuals and weeds before seeds drop or else they could take over your spring garden.

8. Cut back spent perennials

Otherwise, these may create hiding places for slugs, snails, and other pests. 

(No need to buy a raised bed kit when you can make one with this handy video tutorial.)

9. Leave dried flowers

Along with ornamental grasses seed heads that look good and provide food for birds.

10. Protect Perennials

Mulching perennial crops after the ground freezes protects them from frost heaving. (Check out these 5 perennials that can withstand even the toughest winters.)

11. Rake leaves

Clear up and dispose of leaves around roses, apple trees, and plants susceptible to powdery mildew and other pests and diseases that overwinter on debris. (This is the easiest way to rake your yard.)

12. Remove diseased plants

Clear out diseased tomato, potato, and squash foliage to prevent disease. Do not toss these plants in the compost. Bag and discard.

13. Prep roses + fruit trees

Break off dead branches from roses and fruit trees (no pruning yet).

Tom Merton/ Getty


14. Plant bulbs

Fall is the perfect time for planting many bulbs that bloom in spring. Here's your guide to planting bulbs this fall, plus 9 things you should know before you plant tulip bulbs

15. Clean tools

Wipe down tool blades with vegetable oil and handles with sandpaper. Here are 6 easy ways to keep garden tools in great shape

Now, kick back and relax. You're ready for winter!